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Your Turn: Travis McGee

From the Travis McGee mysteries by John D. MacDonald
Nominated by Frank Almade

Variously described as a beach bum, a knight errant and a ladies man, Travis McGee was a counterculture icon before the phrase was invented. To this northern kid, his Florida world, houseboat life and relationships with women were exotic — and his quirky encounters with violence attractive.

But what grabs me on subsequent readings (five times through all 21 novels) are MacDonald's incisive comments on American culture, and human motivations and behavior. I learned more about greed and capitalism through McGee's eyes (and his friend and economist Meyer's elegant lectures) than in 20 sociology books.

McGee's ambiguous morality didn't/doesn't fit into my Catholic upbringing or teaching on a virtuous life. Yet some of his maxims still inform my behavior today. I'd love to know what Travis thinks of our 21st century!